Author Topic: Cellist of Sarajevo (The) - November Book Club Online  (Read 20531 times)

PatH

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #80 on: November 07, 2015, 12:37:10 PM »
The Book Club Online is  the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

November Book Club Online

The Cellist of Sarajevo
by Steven Galloway


Our selection for November is an award-winning novel that explores the dilemmas of ordinary people caught in the crises of war and examines the healing power of art.

"In this beautiful and unforgettable novel, Steven Galloway has taken an extraordinary, imaginative leap to create a story that speaks powerfully to the dignity and generosity of the human spirit under extraordinary duress.." -
~ Cellist of Sarajevo Website.

Discussion Schedule
November 1 - 2  The Cellist and Part One

November 3 - 9  Part Two through the section on Keenan ending with "he knows he has a long way to before he is home again." (p 106 in my copy)

November 10 - 15 Rest of Part Two

November 16 - 23  Part Three

November 24 - 27  Part Four



Questions for November 1-2: (The Cellist and Part One)

What do we learn about the city of Sarajevo in these sections?
What are your initial impressions of the characters that Steven Galloway has created: the Cellist? Arrow? Kenan? Dragan?
What is the main task/activity that is the focus for each of them in this story?
What are some ways that each of them, and other citizens, have been affected by the war?


Questions for November 3-9: (First half of Part Two - to p.106)
What are some more details we learn about Arrow, Dragan and Kenan? Who do they interact with and how?
What seems to be each of their approaches or ways of dealing with the situation they are in?
What are some of the things that they say or we're told that they are thinking that made a special impression on you?
What words, metaphors, descriptions, do you think the author uses to effectively make his points?
Can you personally relate to anything in any of the characters or their situations?


Questions for November 10 - 15: (Second half of Part Two - from p.107 to end of Part Two)
In the beginning of the chapter on Dragan, we learn what he thinks motivates the cellist. Do you agree?
A lot happens to and around Dragan, Arrow and Keenan in the latter pages of Part Two. What actions stand out for you?
What themes do you notice in Part Two?


Questions for November 16 -: (Part Three)
In part Three, Dragan, Arrow and Keenan seem to undergo changes in their outlook. What do you notice about them?
What sentences in this part of the book seem especially important?



Questions for Part Four
How do the stories of the main characters seem to resolve in this last part? Were you surprised by any of their actions?
What are some of your thoughts and feelings as you reflect on this novel?


LINKS

Background on the Adagio in G-Minor, including an audio file.

Image of Vedran, Smailovic, Cello player in the partially destroyed National Library in Sarajevo, 1992.

Sarajevo Survival Map 1992-96
 

Discussion Leader:  Marcie



PatH

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #81 on: November 07, 2015, 12:37:54 PM »
A lot of scary stories.  I haven't ever experienced anything quite like Bellamarie's incident.  Hooray for the dog.

Bellamarie:
Quote
Interesting how she chose Arrow, a name of an inanimate object.  Although an arrow, can bring about death to animals and humans.
Yes, that's why she chose it of course--a weapon, straight, sure, true, and deadly.

Frybabe, I'd like to know more about that sci-fi book you mentioned--in the Sci-fi discussion if you don't think it belongs here.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #82 on: November 07, 2015, 05:32:36 PM »
Yes, I'd be interested to learn about the science fiction book too, Frybabe. I'll take a look in the Science Fiction Books discussion.


I see that a Michio Kaku 4-part program about time, featured on the BBC a few years ago is available for viewing online at https://www.brainpickings.org/2011/03/28/bbc-michio-kaku-time/

I didn't see the program. When I have some time, I'll take a look  ;)

Ella Gibbons

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #83 on: November 07, 2015, 05:42:42 PM »
I've been leafing through the book, so many interesting stories to talk about.   Usually when I read I keep a highlighter close and use it for places I want to read again or comment; but my daughter wants the book and won't take it highlighted, so...............

Kenan watched a man catch a pigeon with a fishing pole and bread crumbs and twists its head off.  Reminded me of when I saw my grandmother twist off a chicken's head - that's a terrible sight for a young child to see; the headless chicken hops around for awhile until it flops over.  I've never forgotten it.  Out ancestors who lived on farms and traveled west did many things to survive and so should we in similar circumstances.

Arrow as a sniper.  For some reason it is difficult for me to read that she is a woman, an excellent shot.  Where did she practice shooting in peacetime?   Who with?  I want to know facts and, of course, will not.

Ella Gibbons

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #84 on: November 07, 2015, 05:46:56 PM »
Does it remind one of the siege of London by the Germans?  We do know the facts there, bombs though, not sniper fire.  But the fear of being out in the open, the long days and nights, the suffering, the loss, would be the same.  For now, I can't think of any other sieges, but I know there have been many in history.

bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #85 on: November 07, 2015, 06:02:07 PM »
EllaWhere did she practice shooting in peacetime?   Who with?  I want to know facts and, of course, will not.

Arrow was on the target shooting team at the University.  She was chosen special for these missions.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

marjifay

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #86 on: November 07, 2015, 11:17:46 PM »
Re the reason President Clinton gave for getting the U.S. involved in the Bosnian War, I found an interesting bit in a book I'm reading, The Balkans, by Misha Glenny.  Glenny quotes John Gunther from Gunther's 1938 book, Inside Europe:  "It is an intolerable affront to human and political nature that these wretched and unhappy little countries in the Balkan Peninsula can, and do, have quarrels that cause world wars.  Some hundred and fifty thousand young Americans died because of an event in 1914 in a mud-caked primitive village, Sarajevo.  Loathsome and almost obscene snarls in Balkan politics, hardly intelligible to a Western reader, are still vital to the peace of Europe, and perhaps the peace of the world."  Glenny says "One notable example was when agents of the Bulgarian government murdered the BBC Bulgarian Service journalist Georgi Markov with a poison-tipped umbrella on a bridge over the River Thames."  I had never heard of this, so looked for some information on it.  Wikipedia says "Markov originally worked as a novelist and playwright in his native country, then governed by a communist regime, until his defection from Bulgaria in 1969. After relocating, he worked as a broadcaster and journalist for the BBC World Service, the US-funded Radio Free Europe, and Germany's Deutsche Welle. Markov used such forums to conduct a campaign of sarcastic criticism against the incumbent Bulgarian regime. As a result of this, it has been speculated that the Bulgarian government may have decided to silence him, and may have asked the KGB for help. He was assassinated on a London street via a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin, fired into his leg via an umbrella wielded by someone associated with the Bulgarian secret police."

Marj

Which reminded me of a new book just out I want to read:  The New Tsar; The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers.  I think Putin has had a few people that he didn't like gotten out of the way permanently.

"Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill."  Barbara Tuchman

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #87 on: November 07, 2015, 11:20:28 PM »
Ella, yes, as Bellamarie says, we're told that Arrow was on the shooting team at her University. Since we also learn that her father was a policeman, it's probably not farfetched for her to know how to use a gun.

I too was fascinated by the story of the man "fishing" for pigeons. I don't like the idea of twisting the bird's head off. I'm sure that many people on farms or in poorer countries do that today. That story of the pigeon fisher was told with humorous dialog between Kenan and the man. THere are several instances of humorous exchanges. I think those make me feel closer to the parties involved.

Ella Gibbons

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #88 on: November 08, 2015, 12:54:39 PM »
" Loathsome and almost obscene snarls in Balkan politics, hardly intelligible to a Western reader, are still vital to the peace of Europe, and perhaps the peace of the world."  - from Marj's post above.

That statement from a book published in 1938 a year before Germany marched into Poland to start WWII. 

Thanks, Marj, for that interesting post - an umbrella used for a poison dart by a KGB agent  to assassinate someone, sounds like a fiction novel, but true. 

Europe has been rather quiet for a few decades hasn't it?   Now if the Middle East would quiet down, settle some of its loathsome and obscene snarls, we might be able to relax.   And if Putin stays home.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #89 on: November 08, 2015, 01:20:17 PM »
Ella, thanks for commenting on Marj's post. I was posting at the same time as you, Marj, and didn't see your post. I'm not sure what that sentence means? That the "snarls in Balkan politics are VITAL to the peace of Europe and perhaps the world."

 I tried searching for that phrase in google and found a book in which it is quoted at
 https://books.google.com/books?id=WZweAIJI0ZwC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119dq=Loathsome+and+almost+obscene+snarls+in+Balkan+politics,+hardly+intelligible+to+a+Western+reader,+are+still+vital+to+the+peace+of+Europe,&source=bl&ots=REkHghbb1q&sig=s0kVd-2OBpF3YkQF_Bb9nXOrm_8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAWoVChMI4YLV1LWByQIVQe1jCh0WHAaK#v=onepage&q=Loathsome%20and%20almost%20obscene%20snarls%20in%20Balkan%20politics%2C%20hardly%20intelligible%20to%20a%20Western%20reader%2C%20are%20still%20vital%20to%20the%20peace%20of%20Europe%2C&f=false

Click on the page number 119 if the whole page does not display.

The book is called "Imagining the Balkans" by Professor Maria Todorova Gutgsell and gives a different view of the Balkans. Wikipedia says about the book:

"If the Balkans hadn't existed, they would have been invented" was the verdict of Count Hermann Keyserling in his famous 1928 publication, Europe. This book traces the relationship between the reality and the invention. Based on a rich selection of travelogues, diplomatic accounts, academic surveys, journalism, and belles-lettres in many languages, Imagining the Balkans explores the ontology of the Balkans from the eighteenth century to the present day, uncovering the ways in which an insidious intellectual tradition was constructed, became mythologized, and is still being transmitted as discourse.

The author, who was raised in the Balkans, is in a unique position to bring both scholarship and sympathy to her subject. A region geographically inextricable from Europe, yet culturally constructed as "the other," the Balkans have often served as a repository of negative characteristics upon which a positive and self-congratulatory image of the "European" has been built. With this work, Todorova offers a timely, accessible study of how an innocent geographic appellation was transformed into one of the most powerful and widespread pejorative designations in modern history."

Frybabe

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #90 on: November 08, 2015, 03:54:39 PM »
I'm reading All Quiet on the Western Front along with Cellist. What a horror to be bombarded not only by artillery and mortar shells, but with Mustard Gas. Also, I ran across a poet by the name of Siegfried Sassoon who was a veteran of WWI and a holder of the Military Cross.  The second stanza especially reminds me of Kenan as he tries to find the safest way around the city to the brewery to get water.

The Road to Ruin

My hopes, my messengers I sent
Across the ten years continent
Of Time. In dream I saw them go--

And thought, 'When they come back I'll show
To what far place I lead my friends
Where this disastrous decade ends.'

Like one in purgatory, I learned
The loss of hope. For none returned,
And long in darkening dream I lay.
Then came a ghost whose warning breath
Gasped from an agony of death,
'No, not that way; no, not that way.'

marjifay

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #91 on: November 08, 2015, 06:27:52 PM »
Yes, Ella, it's hard to imagine Europe as it was just before and during WW.  And since the breakup of the USSR, how awful it must have been for those poor people who had to live under communist controlled regimes.  It would be great to get rid of ISIS and have the Middle East become peaceful.  I have a book waiting to be read, Black Flags; The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick.  Has anyone read it?  I'll give my opinion after I've read it.
Marj
"Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill."  Barbara Tuchman

marjifay

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #92 on: November 08, 2015, 06:38:10 PM »
Yes, Marcie, I also puzzled over that sentence in Gunther's book, "snarls in Balkan politics are VITAL to the peace of Europe and perhaps the world."

I was not able to read that link you gave.  But it would seem that sentence should have said Getting rid of the snarls in Balkan politics is vital to the peace of Europe, etc. 

I will look for that book you mentioned, Imagining the Balkans.  I'm finding that area of Europe fascinating, at least during  the time we're talking about after that breakup of Yugoslavia.  Now I want to learn more about the Ottoman Empire. 

Marj
"Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill."  Barbara Tuchman

PatH

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #93 on: November 08, 2015, 06:46:26 PM »
Here's another one of Sassoon's I rather like.  Sassoon was a rare example of a British poet who fought in WWI but wasn't killed.  (Decorated for bravery, though.)

Base Details

If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young chap,’
I’d say—‘I used to know his father well.
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.

PatH

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #94 on: November 08, 2015, 06:48:29 PM »
And when we mention sieges, the one that comes to my mind is the WWII siege of Leningrad, but the details are so horrific I'm not going to go into it.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #95 on: November 08, 2015, 09:37:52 PM »
Marj, yes the that snarls quote seemed to say the opposite of what I thought it would mean.

Frybabe and Pat, I became interested in the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon when I was in high school, although I'm sure I didn't understand him very fully. I remember that last line very well ... "And when the war is done and youth stone dead, I'd toddle safely home and die -- in bed." In seems that in this Sarajevo siege/war in the novel too there are some "higher ups" pulling the strings, although they are mostly in the shadows. Our main characters are among the puppets.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #96 on: November 09, 2015, 02:10:08 AM »
Need to catch up but will post tomorrow - thank goodness the new section does not start till the day after tomorrow -

I think at the time we were appalled however, we had not been through yet the horrors of Afghanistan or Iraq and so it was a distant war that was fought by UN peace-keepers with their light blue Barret, pictured standing in full view from the tanks rolling in after this thing escalated beyond Sarajevo -

For the life of me I cannot remember where I read who and why the sectarian violence was lite after several generations of these different religions and cultures successfully living together - I need to find that...

I remember the talk at the time of this bombardment of Sarajevo how Sarajevo had been one of the most beautiful cities that hosted the Olympics and many who had been there for the Olympics were following each awfulness with the exact location and what their experience was when they visited during the Olympics.

The grounds of one of the Olympic stadiums
 


BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #97 on: November 09, 2015, 03:54:59 AM »
aha - another cobbled together nation - this time after WWII when Tito was the leader - Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia were all part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and so it was after Tito's death that Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic comes along and fires up the old nationalism of each area that had been divided along sectarian lines.

Looks like Bosnia goes back to the 9th century and at the time was Christianized. 

In 1345, the Serbian Empire was established: it spanned a large part of the Balkans. In 1540 the Ottoman Empire annexed Serbia.

The Serbian realms disappeared by the mid-16th century, torn by domestic feuds, and Ottoman conquest. The success of the Serbian revolution against Ottoman rule in 1817 marked the birth of the Principality of Serbia, which achieved de facto independence in 1867 and finally gained recognition by the Great Powers in the Berlin Congress of 1878.

Croatia first appeared as a duchy in the late 8th century and then as a kingdom in the 10th century. From the 12th century it remained a distinct state with its ruler (ban) and parliament, but it obeyed the kings and emperors of various neighboring powers, primarily Hungary and Austria.

Looks like Slovenia goes back to the 5th century

Montenegro was the Republic of Venice dominated the coasts of today's Montenegro from 1420 to 1797. In those four centuries the area around the Cattaro (Kotor) became part of the Venetian albania-montenegro, called in those centuries Albania veneta.

Part of today's Montenegro,called Sandžak, was under Ottoman control from 1498 to 1912, while coastal Montenegro was under Venetian control and rest of Montenegro was independent from 1516, when Vladika Vavil was elected as ruler of Montenegro by its clans, and it became Theocratic state.

And Macedonia is the Daddy of all nations with a 2500 year old history - and they were included by Tito into what was Yugoslavia!!??!! http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #98 on: November 09, 2015, 03:57:43 AM »
OK found some of what I remember reading about the rational for this war - the background to ethnic diversity is that where folks will learn and adapt to a switch in languages, there is an emotional attachment that is basic to ethnicity. Religions are heavy in symbolism and so, communities that function with a variety of religions is a social construct, mobilized into a cohesive community by the elite.

Violent conflict along sectarian lines are provoked by the elite that will lead to a concern for security, inciting fear and the elite will answer by highlighting external threats.

"Elites use this strategy to shift the structure of domestic power and to fend off domestic challengers who seek to mobilize people against the status quo."

Ethnicity, religion, culture, and class are the elite's instruments of power and influence, central to their legitimacy and authority. Competing elites will selectively draw on the traditions and mythologies among those groups who they will mobilize to the elite's version of a political union.

“Control or ownership of mass media, especially television, bestows an enormous political advantage where the wider population is involved in politics, and is a key element in the success of such a strategy.”

The cultural differences between these Baltic nations is huge - some still retain aspects of Roman Law that came from the earliest settlers who were from Rome while others were more influenced by Byzantine, the two great powers competing since the earliest Christian governess.

"Milosevic exercised great power in the country. He had superior organizational skills and promoted people to senior positions whose main attribute was personal loyalty. He also understood the power of the media and was a skilled propaganda expert... He was an ambitious politician who had learned the methods of Communist power politics as he worked his way up the system. There was general economic malaise and discontent, which made people yearn for decisive leadership."

“Consciousness of ethnic difference turned into nationalist hatred only when the surviving Communist elites, beginning with Serbia, began manipulating nationalist emotions in order to cling to power.”

Looks like this same hodge podge of differences that made up the Baltic states cobbled into one government was doomed to failure unless held together by a strong man like Tito - which seems like a blueprint of Iraq and probably Syria.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #99 on: November 09, 2015, 09:57:16 AM »
Thanks, Barbara, for all of that background information. We can continue to talk about the early part of Part Two as we move on to the second half of Part Two this week.

bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #100 on: November 09, 2015, 10:26:23 AM »
Barb,  Good to have you back! 

Is there ever any other reasons for war then the same reasons as far back as Biblical times....religion, ethnicity, politics, power, and trying to possess more regions to attain more power through oil or bank accounts they seige when they overtake a region/government.

This is a pretty good piece explaining the causes of the Balkan wars.
http://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=kaleidoscope

Winston Churchill mused that "the Balkan states produce more history than they can consume," while Otto von Bismark quipped that "if there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans." These two exemplary quotes illuminate the context of the strife that has typically been associated with the Balkan Peninsula, both by men that need no introduction in the political realm.

The events that lead to the rise of the First Balkan War were interconnected and exacerbated each other, making a linear, cause-and-effect progression difficult to follow. There were many actors vying for their own interests to parse out a simple account of what happened prior and during the war. All that can be determined is that a
mixture of outside influences from Austria-Hungary and Russia, a feverish spread of independence in the region in the years prior and in Albania during the conflict, as well as the Macedonian territory at stake, pushed the Balkan League into seizing the chance to cast the peninsula free from Ottoman control during its era of weakness.


I found a few minutes free between my granddaughter's all day volleyball matches this weekend, to read the last part of section two.  The characters and the events this author describes in this section seems surreal, I could imagine this book being non-fiction.
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JoanK

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #101 on: November 09, 2015, 04:06:26 PM »
BARB: very interesting to learn that the history of those states goes back so  far.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #102 on: November 10, 2015, 10:43:33 AM »
The cellist (our title character) seems to be central to the story. We don't know very much about him although we learn some things in the opening of the novel. We're getting to know what affects he is having on people by their reflections and dialog with one another. In the beginning of this next section of Part Two, the chapter on Dragan, we learn what Dragan thinks motivates the cellist. Do you agree?

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #103 on: November 10, 2015, 10:15:26 PM »
I think I didn't word that last question very well.

In the beginning of this next section of Part Two, the chapter on Dragan, we learn what Dragan thinks motivates the cellist. Do you agree? Do Dragan's views about the cellist seem plausible? What do we know about the fictional cellist created by Galloway?

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #104 on: November 11, 2015, 01:20:29 AM »
Marcie I cannot even get into this next section the first 100 pages are so filled with awe and wonderment - so much I am having a difficult time even putting it all on paper - I am blown away with what Steven Galloway had done -

All that and I'm struggling to articulate my thoughts - as usual one bit of insight leads to another - I am still putting it all together - These characters each appear to represent one of the 5 stages of Grief - it is as if they represent the Grief for a nation almost as if they were a human nerve connection to Sarajevo - and then after the first bits that explain each in their individual stage of grief they seem to carry that designation, the attributes of that stage of Grief into a Wake, as each of their lives is a vigil to Sarajevo as mourners at a wake remembering its life.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live without what or whom we lost.

The Cellist, who almost dream like continues with what was magnificent about life in Sarajevo - In the story he has not another name other then The Cellist making his character almost a whisper, a numb overwhelming expression of the incomprehensible. He silently and with great care in slow motion, with no sense of daring death, he raises his bow to his instrument.

DENIAL is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on.

We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.

As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.


I really want to go back to each and quote the words and actions expressing their stage of grief but the task is great.

Arrow, filled with righteous anger - she is so consumed by her anger she is like the pointed projectile of her name - with one purpose, as if the destruction of Sarajevo was the bow that pulled the arrow, she has no other emotion or purpose. She says, "I don't kill to benefit myself, or you." Then why? - Back to the early part - the answer is there - summed up, "But she knows it isn't up to her. You don't choose what to believe. Belief chooses you." The Spanish interpretation of her name is 'warlike' - far from living in denial.

ANGER is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing.

The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger.

Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure – – your anger toward them.

The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it.

The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.


Kenan bargains and bargains - as if it is all a bad dream and Europe will come to save them. If he is the water carrier he may put off being called upon as a soldier where he thinks his chances of death are greater. He is afraid of dying but then his children; so for them he bargains, he must be spared - or if he walks this route - or stays out of the army - or is considered important because he gets good clean water - walks for clean water so they will not get sick and die should be worth something to the gods of fate - he keeps his promises to get water regardless the containers and the risk - the shoe never drops as he risks his fate crossing the bridge - all attempting to outwit the chance of a bullet ending his life.

He can see the deprivation of war and tease and joke as if he lives in a dream that he, like the pigeons have been caught while still trying to fly away. He thinks of the men in the hills "killing them slowly, a half a dozen at a time so there will always be a few more to kill the next day" and if can just escape being one of the dead pigeons.

He is not only true to the bargaining aspect of grief but true to his name, 'Kenan', a Turkish name so of course he had to go through the Turkish part of town. Although a Turkish name, its roots are Hebrew as in the son of Enoch and means Possession - the name Kenan also has roots in Arabic and Kabyle, the Berber tribes of northern Algeria and like the nomadic Berbers, he traverses across Sarajevo for water. 

BARGAINING Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.”

After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”

We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only.

Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #105 on: November 11, 2015, 02:45:47 AM »
Dragan is showing all the signs of Depression. Interesting, found Dragan to be a Serbian name. Dragan means Sweetheart, Precious and Protector, an introverted soul, reserved and secretive, who tends to protect himself from a world that can make him feel a little uneasy at times.

Here is one of the links with a full explanation of the name Dragan -
http://www.first-names-meanings.com/names/name-DRAGAN.html

The soldiers in the hills are Serbian so like Sarajevo he is a true representation of the city where Serbs, Bosnians, Turks and Croats lived together - He remembers Sarajevo as it was when "People were happy." He names various areas of the city and how they are cut off, isolated. Everyday the Sarajevo he remembers slips away so that he realizes he was "no longer fighting the city's disappearance". He fears the time between being shot and dying; the thoughts people have while dying, seeing themselves ending. The destruction of the living is too much for him. He carries with him an unfocused sense of doom that risking a dangerous crossing is all there is till the next death, picked off by a sniper.

He believes his wife and son are safe and hopes they are happy - Wives who have escaped to other lands often send back divorce papers - he has not received any news and thinks how he is dependent on his brother-in-law, his sister's husband, and how his wife would not enjoy living with them and how when she left at night, he felt he would never see her again. 

He talks of the man who was in the camps during WWII and who killed himself the day the war began because after all they went through people had not learned from it.

DEPRESSION After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss.

We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of.

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual.

When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.

His son's name is "Davor", an old South Slavic given name possibly derived from the prehistoric Slavic god of war, expressing joy or sorrow. The name is an accumulation of all the traditions in the area - it is a name popular among Croatian, Serbian, Slovene and Bosnian. Is this Steven Galloway's nod to hope for better future but just not now in Sarajevo.

Emina is a Bosnian name meaning - "an emotional, sensitive and nervous individual who seeks the company of others. While she is quite idealistic, she never completely loses her grip on reality and her feet remain firmly planted on the ground. Her imagination is extremely rich and contributes, for the most part, to making up for the dissatisfaction that she feels with her everyday life."
http://www.first-names-meanings.com/names/name-EMINA.html

I've finished only to page 92 - I'm in awe the characters, named and described by Steven Galloway that he creates to tell the story. I am expecting that the next round of the story as the last sentence on page 92 points to, is Acceptance.

I need to read further but I am imagining Emina to be part of Dragan's acceptance - Emina certainly shows a glass half full rather than a glass almost empty. Will Arrow connect with her other feelings and emotions, will Kenan find his courage or will he continue to bargain his way or will acceptance begin to creep in. 

"People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one."

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #106 on: November 11, 2015, 03:14:17 AM »
Do not know where in the book Acceptance will be featured but it is the 5th stage of Grief - Acceptance that Sarajevo will never be the city it once was and the lives of these characters will be changed.

ACCEPTANCE is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one.

This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it.

It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loss, our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before our loss or, before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact.

It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one.

We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.

bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #107 on: November 11, 2015, 12:08:02 PM »
I am so drawn to the character Emina, she shows such strength, bravery, compassion, kindness and hope even though she admits to being afraid.  This exchange with Dragan and Emina just tears at me:

"Do you think," Dragan asks, "it's worse to be wounded or killed?"  "I think," she says, her eyes moving toward the intersection. "it's better to be wounded.  At least that way you have a chance to live."  "It's not much of a chance," he says, wondering why.  What possible point could there be to this conversation?  But the words can't seem to stop.  It's like picking at a scab.  "What do you mean?  A chance is a chance."  "There's not a whole lot the hospitals can do for you.  They're low on supplies, low on people."  He doesn't know for sure that either of these things is true, but it seems likely.  "I think they are fairly well equipped.  It seems a lot of people are wounded and don't die."  He can see that his criticism bother her, that she doesn't want him to be right.  Her neck has gone red, and she's moved away from him, ever so slightly.  "If they're so well equipped, then why are you risking your life to deliver medicine that's almost a decade old?"  He's scored a direct hit.  She steps back, takes her hands out of her pockets and raises them to her chest.  For an instant Dragan wonders if she's about to strike him.  He wouldn't mind if she did.  He knows he deserves it. 

Emina then mentions the cellist and wonders why he goes everyday at 4:00 and plays and says she goes to hear him and says, "I don't know the piece he plays, what its name is.  It's a sad tune.  But it doesn't make me sad."  She asks, "Why do you suppose he's there?  Is he playing for the people who died?  Or is he playing for the people who haven't?  What does he hope to accomplish?"  "Who is he playing for?" she asks again.

"Maybe he's playing for himself," he says.  "Maybe it's all he knows how to do, and he's not doing it to make something happen."  And he thinks this is true.  What the cellist want isn't a change, or to set things right again, but to stop things from getting worse.  Because, as the optimist in Emina's mother's joke said, it can always get worse.  But perhaps the only thing that will stop it from getting worse is people doing the things they know how to do.


I don't know if I agree with Dragan's assessment of why the cellist plays.  I think it's more about feeling he must do something in honor of the friends he lost.  His music is what he knows best to do, so he plays it for them, and I am sure it soothes himself in some way.  It is familiar, something he needs at a time where everything makes no sense.

Emina admits, "I'm afraid, Dragan.  I'm afraid of everything, of dying, of not dying.  I'm afraid that it will stay like this forever, that this war isn't a war, but just how life will be."

I sense Emina is a spiritual person, someone who needs to have faith and hope.  I sense when she listens to the cellist play it gives her hope.  I think Dragan tries to hurt Emina because he hates he is weak, and resents her strength.  War seems to bring out the worst and best in people.  Dragan does not like seeing himself a frightened, weak man.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

JoanK

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #108 on: November 11, 2015, 03:43:30 PM »
That's interesting, BARB. could you give a source for your explanation of the five stages.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #109 on: November 11, 2015, 05:55:46 PM »
 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about the stages of grief back in the 60s - a bunch of us came across her book in the 70s when we were also looking at and learning from Shehi's 9 stages of life that after she became age 65 she realized there was far more and added I think 3 or maybe 4 more stages.

There has been more and more written about the 5 stages of Grief so that many have been reading and relating our many experiences of loss to her five stages. Since the publication of her book and mostly in recent years there are several who have added to her 5 stages to make it 6 and a few even 7 stages - however, the original 5 still have the most tractions used by grief groups and among therapists.  It is also used by many hospice care givers, at times for the dying and as a tool to better help the closest family members.

Although Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who died only about 10 years ago, was focused on the death of loved ones, since, and for at least the last 20 years or so many psychologist have written how it is the process we experience with all loss. At first it was only great loss and then came the realization we do this over smaller losses.

Some of the losses are the topic of conversation in many Al-anon meetings when someone we know and love becomes addicted and they no longer appear as the person we knew and loved and since the Iraq and Afghanistan war there are families who are mourning the changes in young men coming home seriously wounded physically or mentally from war and the loss of who they were before they shipped out is grieved.

I woke up one day and realized that I was experiencing these steps over my own aging as I loose physical capacity and cannot do something I could do a year or so ago - at first I feel a sense of denial and I am real big into bargaining - if I do this or that I will get back what I could do and then the realization the 'this or that' is more difficult or just as impossible because it is all part of my body aging. Up until a year ago I was still making decisions as if I was going to be hail and hearty for years and years to come. Many of the younger folks do not like hearing about the losses that come with aging and so they too are living in one of the grieving steps.   

I had bookmarked several web sites that explained how we react during these 5 stages and the one with the most concise definitions is what I used to quote from explaining how I see the format for this book. However if you google either, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross or the 5 stages of grief you will find many, many web sites.

Here is the web site I quoted from - http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #110 on: November 11, 2015, 06:10:27 PM »
Oh dear - it just hit me - I have assumed - but then maybe not -  I did assume we all were very familiar with the 5 stages of Grief and we mostly just needed a refresher to how we think and react in the various stages - therefore, including in my posts the quotes - so that we could compare the stage of thinking and behavior given to these Characters by Galloway

Having used Elizabeth Kubler Ross's books as a guide to get through my mother's death in the 80s and then my sons death 10 years ago and my best friend and I, together re-read Ross when her husband died so that when she died this past Spring I could almost quote the steps as I saw myself and her children in the process of grief - and then looking back I had other monumental losses in my life that only a few years ago I realized I was grieving those losses and so rather than scolding myself for not getting on with things I could let up accepting I was going through a process of grief. With that history that is how I assumed - and how this book hit me as soon as I started to read about Arrow.

And then the unusual names struck me as odd and started to look them up - sure enough they also are keys to these characters and I think to the overall message of what is symbolized by Sarajevo.

marcie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #111 on: November 11, 2015, 08:23:41 PM »
Barbara, I appreciate your detailed analysis of the 5 stages of grief that you see in the characters in this novel. I can see that you've given this a lot of thought. Whether or not everyone sees this comparison with the 5 stages, there is much in your posts that can help each of us see the characters in a different light.

Barbara and Bellamarie, you both seem to be finding hope in Emina. She has doubts but she tries to keep them at bay. Of all of the characters we've met in the novel so far, is she the one who exhibits the most hope in her words and actions?

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #112 on: November 11, 2015, 09:25:24 PM »
Emina then mentions the cellist and wonders why he goes everyday at 4:00 and plays and says she goes to hear him and says, "I don't know the piece he plays, what its name is.  It's a sad tune.  But it doesn't make me sad."  She asks, "Why do you suppose he's there?  Is he playing for the people who died?  Or is he playing for the people who haven't?  What does he hope to accomplish?"  "Who is he playing for?" she asks again.

"Maybe he's playing for himself," he says.  "Maybe it's all he knows how to do, and he's not doing it to make something happen."  And he thinks this is true.  What the cellist want isn't a change, or to set things right again, but to stop things from getting worse.  Because, as the optimist in Emina's mother's joke said, it can always get worse.  But perhaps the only thing that will stop it from getting worse is people doing the things they know how to do.

Bellamarie you've identified the place where Dragan says that he thinks the cellist is playing for himself. He further clarifies to say he means that the cellist is being true to himself, doing all that he knows how to do...being himself. He is playing his music in the face of shooters who are trying to keep the people of Sarajevo from living their lives -- in the final sense of killing them as well as in the sense of preventing them from living as they used to live day to day.

As you say, Bellamarie, he could also feel he must do something in honor, or memory, of the friends he lost... the people he saw killed as he was looking out his window.

He's playing the Adagio for 22 days, one for each of the people killed.

On the second page of the book we learn that every day "the cellist sits beside the window of his second-floor apartment and plays until he feels his hope return. He rarely plays the Adagio. Most days he's able to feel the music rejuvenate him.... but some days this isn't the case. If, after several hours, this hope doesn't return, he will pause to gather himself, and then he and his cello will coax Albinoni's Adagio out of the firebombed husk of Dresden and into the mortar-pocked, sniper-infested streets of Sarajevo. By the time the last few notes fade, his hope will be restored, but each time he's forced to resort to the Adagio it becomes harder, and he knows its effect is finite. There are only a certain number of Adagios left in him, and he will not recklessly spend this precious currency."

The cellist is spending 22 consecutive days of this precious currency. It seems an extraordinary action. I'm still thinking about it's possible meanings.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #113 on: November 11, 2015, 10:20:01 PM »
I wonder Marcie the bible says things about the number 22... Because we know that there were far more than 22 killed and only a few, I think I read somewhere there were 7 killed the first day of the siege.

According to my book on traditional symbols in the section on numerology...

The number 22, is double eleven. Eleven is the symbol for disorder and chaos.

Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel after the kingdom split in two in 930 B.C., reigned for 22 years.
Ahab, the worst Israelite king, reigned for 22 years.

The Hebrew alphabet is made up of 22 letters, which are used to compose the Word of God. The word of God is called a lamp, thus it is the light by which we are to live. The word light is included 264 times in Scripture. When 264 is divided by 12, which represents divine authority, the sum is twenty-two, which represents light.

On the sixth day of creation God creates 22 things. There are twenty-two books in Leviticus, the Old Testament, which is the light of God for Israel.

It is said that light is used twenty-two times in the Gospel of John in which John he quotes Jesus: "I have come as a light into the world . . .".

And so maybe his playing the Adagio in G-minor for 22 days is an act of hope and belief in a God or the light of God.

Frybabe

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #114 on: November 12, 2015, 07:03:51 AM »
That's interesting Barb. It immediately brought to my mind Captain Ahab from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, not the best captain to be sailing under, and the white whale did cause chaos.

 I found this article about the author that is very interesting indeed. Starting with para. six, he explains what he hopes people will take away from reading the book. http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2014/03/13/steven_galloway_and_the_lessons_of_the_cellist_of_sarajevo.html

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #115 on: November 12, 2015, 11:30:17 AM »
Barbara, that's an interesting thought about the possible meaning of the number 22. Hope seems to be a major theme in the novel and "light" instead of darkness would certainly symbolize hope.

THank you for the link to that article, Frybabe. What Galloway says is in keeping with many of the thoughts that you all have expressed in our discussion so far.

bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #116 on: November 12, 2015, 11:40:53 AM »
Barbara,  I was very familiar with the 5 stages of grief.  I learned them well when my precious mother died.  I never saw the comparison in the story or characters, but you linked them quite well.  I am sorry you have had to experience so many losses and are still in these stages.  I does indeed take years for some to get through them.  I'm pretty sure I went back and forth with some of them as well.

This book has definitely brought a sadness to me even though Emina is the one character who keeps me hopeful.  The cellist does not bring me hope, if anything I find him depressing.  Just me....
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bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #117 on: November 12, 2015, 12:10:51 PM »
Frybabe,  Thank you for the article, it's good to see before reading this article, our discussion group was able to take from the book what the author intended for his readers.  Each time in this story Gallaway would mention one more building would be bombed that held art form, music and literature, it would sadden me.  These are the things that bring communities together to share in the expression of life, culture, religion, and diversity.  We learn much when we allow ourselves to be open to all forms of art expression.  I am afraid this war has overshadowed the importance of art, yet that I suppose in what war does to us.  The cellist is not going to allow the bombing to keep him from his love of his music.  He will honor and remember the 22 he cared for, and I am sure all those who have died a horrible death, by playing Albinoni’s Adagio for 22 days. His playing does seem to give others hope, by just watching him come to this place each day, and the music while it could be sad, gives them a sense of hope.  Gives them just a few minutes to not deal with the war torn city and lives. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

BarbStAubrey

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #118 on: November 12, 2015, 02:39:50 PM »
Thank you, thank you - Frybabe for the article that explains how the author connects the arts to our humanity - never made that connection before but it is a question front and center when all these folks want to take the arts out of the school curriculum - we are denying kids not only an expression of their humanity but we are training them to deny their humanity - so many, especially guys think it is so precious to make in fun of or make a put down remark about certain kinds of art - hmm - I can see that is nothing but a power move to tout their taste as superior.

And likewise a double thanks to you Bellamarie - your concern for my experiences with grief because of your post and the article that Frybabe brought to our attention I can see grief is also what keeps us humane - it is an necessary as eating and sleeping - can you imagine what we would be without feeling and walking the paths of grief - I can see now running away from grief as if it were an unpleasant part of life to avoid like a major road accident we end up getting stuck in one of the steps - and without seeing ourselves stuck in one of the steps of grief we can act without control not  understanding what pulls us to that behavior. And so I am realizing my grief experiences are a blessing that kept me human and I can see how avoiding one of the steps because I was taught it was unseemly is how I get stuck hmm.  ;) a lot of personal understanding not only from reading this book but from y'all  :-*

bellamarie

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Re: The Cellist of Sarajevo - November Book Club Online
« Reply #119 on: November 12, 2015, 03:14:48 PM »
Barbara, now that you have made grief an awareness in this book as well as life, I am beginning to think about how yes, if we do not allow ourselves to experience these human emotions we would not be allowing our own self to actually feel human.  Much like the people during war time when they begin to lose faith and hope, and wonder if their lives as they knew them before the war will ever be again, when a loved ones dies I believe you do ask if your life will ever be the same without this person, especially if they were close and important to you.  People somehow manage to rebuild after wars, they have their memories to take with them into their new life, just as we have of those we lose in life.  We do indeed go on and begin living our lives without this person, with this loss, but the memories live on inside of us.  The pain eventually subsides, we cry a little less, days gather in between the last time we felt we would not be able to go on, and before we know it, we can smile again, sing out loud, actually laugh without feeling guilty, and yes, enjoy life.  It's the circle of life......our faith sustains us. 

I think as the cellist continues to play each day he too remembers those he lost, yet each day his life goes on without them.

As Gallaway states in the article Frybabe provided for us:   On the flip side of that pessimism is the theme that “human beings as a group are pretty optimistic. Crushing the human spirit is a pretty hard thing to do,” he said, citing Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden